Where do carrot seeds come from?
Carrots are biennial plants. If you leave them in the ground, the tops will flower and produce seeds the second year.
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Can I plant lettuce in fall to come up in spring?
Yes, gardeners in northern climates can harvest early-spring lettuce--as well as spinach, kale, garlic, and parsley--if it's planted just before the cold weather arrives in fall. Protect the young plants with a cold frame or thick mulch through the winter, then remove the protection when soil temperature in your area reaches 40 degrees F. Water the new plants well in spring.
Where did the gypsy moth come from?
Gypsy moths are native to temperate areas of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Those in North America have mainly originated from Europe. They first arrived in North America in 1869, brought by Leopold Trouvelot of Massachusetts. He hoped to crossbreed the gypsy moth and the silkworm moth in order to create a hardy silkworm for the silk industry in the United States. In the late 1860s, some of his gypsy moth larvae got away and found a predator-free paradise in New England. In later years, accidental introductions of both European and Asian types have occurred. Now, gypsy moths can be found in the northeastern United States and parts of the Southeast and Midwest, as well as in isolated areas of the West. They have also spread to areas of eastern Canada. In a "lean" year, gypsy moths defoliate more than 2 million acres of forest in the Northeast.
Can you suggest some fragrant foliage plants?
Try yarrow, golden marguerite, wormwood, wild marjoram, rue, and sage for starters. All these perennials are sweetly scented.
Can I use peanut shells as mulch in my garden?
Peanut shells are great for mulching. They are a terrific source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Add some cottonseed meal to ground or broken-up peanut shells to help them decompose and prevent them from compacting after a rain, then apply as you would any mulch.
Is it true that old-time farmers would sit bare-bottomed on the soil to determine when it was time to plant?
There are tales of gardeners using this method. If the soil was comfortable for the gardener or farmer, it would also be comfortable for the plants, they reasoned. Similarly, an old wives' tale in England held that turnips should be planted by naked gardeners. This may stem from the fact that turnips fail miserably when planted too early, so if it was warm enough to go naked, it was warm enough for turnips! For obvious reasons, we at The Old Farmer's Almanac will refrain from attesting to the efficacy of either of these methods.
On fertilizer bags, the first of three numbers (i.e., "xx" in "xx yy zz") is the nitrogen content. What are the yy and zz numbers? Isn't one of them phosphate?
The other numbers indicate the phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) content of the fertilizer.
Is it possible to use pine needles and oak leaves as a mulch for plants such as tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, basil, and bell peppers without adverse results?
Yes, you can create a mulch from oak leaves, pine bark nuggets, pine needles, or fully composted wood chips. This type of mulch is especially good for protecting shallow-rooted plants.